One year ago on this page we noted that former Columbia County Chamber of Commerce office manager Stephanie Hackett was battling health problems associated with colon cancer.
Hackett was just 33. Four years earlier she had gotten married to Kevin Hackett, and was pursuing a happy new career as a stay-at-home mom to sons Hunter and Chandler and stepson Kevin Jr.
Then cancer hit, and turned their world upside down. Hackett battled bravely for more than a year, hanging on longer than just about anyone thought she would until finally slipping away early Friday morning.
Back when Hackett was with Columbia County's Chamber of Commerce, some people might have been tempted at first to take her less than seriously, as a petite, young blond woman mingling with business professionals. They quickly learned that Hackett was the glue that held Columbia County's Chamber together, and would outwork the best of them.
Andy Kingery, the chamber's former interim director, says it best: "She was just such a good, hard-working individual with a can-do attitude."
Husband Kevin also recently noted that, even as she was bedridden in hospice care, Stephanie still was thinking about helping others. Shortly before the Thanksgiving Day relapse that signaled her health was on a downward spiral, Stephanie wrote a note to The News-Times, taking time to publicly voice her appreciation for donations to her medical fund and paying tribute to the "great community" reaching out to her family.
Stephanie herself performed a great service to Columbia County, especially its business community, by working to help build the Chamber of Commerce through tough transitional years. The current chamber's strength is at least in part a testament to the care and hard work that Stephanie brought to the job.
Chamber members have reciprocated by helping to support the family through Stephanie's illness, and the Columbia County community also has helped.
But more is still needed: The family already was having a tough time paying its expenses during Stephanie's protracted illness, but because she lived into 2005, her medical insurance hit the family with another round of deductibles for her care. A fund is set up at Regions Bank on Furys Ferry Road to take donations.
Stephanie Hackett, in her short time in public service, was a true credit to her community. It would be right for that community to now help repay that service.
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